The German luxury car manufacturer Audi on Thursday launched its new A6 sedan in India, starting at Rs 54.20 lakh (ex-showroom) in 2.0L TFSI engine option. Being the 8th generation of A6, it borrows design cues from A7 and A8.
In a exclusive interview with CNBC-TV18, Balbir Singh Dhillon, head of Audi India, talked about the company's expansion plans and the new models in the pipeline.
"Our focus is to go into tier ll and tier lll cities with our workshop first approach," Dhillon said.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
Q: Congratulations on the new car and also, what bookings have you clocked for A6 already?
A: Well, today we are announcing the price of the car. There has been a lot of gathering of prospective buyers across the country. I am not going to announce the number, but there is a lot of anticipation from the customers and cars are just reaching all our customers across the country and we are expecting a very good booking collection in the next few weeks & next few months.
Q: We are in the festive season, so can the potential customers expect some kind of deals from you right now?
A: Obviously, we are just launching the car today, so there are no deals on the cars. As I just mentioned before during my presentation as well, we are not here to sell discounts, we don’t want to sell cars with discount. What we want to do for a customer is to offer them value. Wherever they are buying our products, there should be ease of owning these vehicles. So whether we do this from our extended warranty programs or insurance programs, there are so many other things which we bring or we do this with ‘Connected Cars’. So the idea is that, we sell the cars with lot of value and with a lot of peace of mind with the customer. We bring the latest technologies in the country. Discounts is past.
Q: You did say that you are going to be focusing on Tier ll and Tier lll cities in terms of dealerships. Are you still planning to expand as well?
A: Our focus is to go into tier ll and tier lll cities with our workshop first approach. So we already have our customers which are spread across the country. But for the ease of ownership of cars will start our operations with the workshop first, this is our approach going to be, followed by the showrooms. When there is sufficient potential existing in different markets we will also come up with showrooms. But most important for me is that our customers are taken care off and this will be done through our workshops.
Q: Your competitors are focusing on enhancing the digital buying experience, is that something Audi will be looking at too in the future?
A: Not just future, its already happening. The digitalisation is not just before buying the cars. Digitalisation is a journey. So one we have to obviously take care of before buying experience which even today exists with AR or VR. All our showrooms are digitalised in terms of representation of the brand, by also giving customer experience before buying we are already in. But this just one part of it. The second part is, during the ownership of the car you are also digitalised and you are connected with the cars. So when we bring in the ‘Connected Cars’, you have an app which is available. You are connected to your cars all the times. So you are living the journey of digitalisation. It’s not just one incident before buying the car, but it’s when you own the car. That’s what our journey is and here onwards will be.
Q. What can we expect from Audi India next, what’s in the pipeline?
A: I will have to keep some secrets still. But I can only tell you that we are going to launch many more models in the coming years. Starting very first quarter next year and just wait for the next announcements. But let’s enjoy the day today and feel good about what we have brought in the country and this is one of our flagship models and we want to reach a large section of customers. We already have 15,000 existing A6 customers and we also have to achieve more and more.
Q. I have to ask you that, obviously electrification is something that we are looking forward to and I do know that Audi had put the e-Tron on hold till the infrastructure is in place to support it. Where do you stand on that right now?
A: We have not put e-Tron on hold. E-Tron will definitely going to come to India. We will announce in sometime when it will come to India. So electrification is in the core of Audi. At the same time you see that India government is also promoting electrification and we will definitely live this journey and the cars will definitely come as well. Not just one model, but there are many to come.
A: As I mentioned that there are some products which are planned for next year and we will announce very shortly as time comes. But we will bring, that’s the bottom line.
Q. There is no timeline fixed as yet?